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Mulesing proposals a concern for peak group

Bob GarnantCountryman
The NM2 proposal would recognise that no sheep in the mob had been mulesed and an alternative method to mulesing had been used.
Camera IconThe NM2 proposal would recognise that no sheep in the mob had been mulesed and an alternative method to mulesing had been used. Credit: Danella Bevis/Countryman

Australia’s peak woolgrower organisation has “strongly rejected” two proposed mulesing status categories as alternative methods to recognised mulesing.

A review into the National Wool Declaration, which enables woolgrowers to promote their animal welfare practices, is considering replacing the existing mulesing status of non-mulesed wool.

The proposed NM1 would recognise that no sheep in the mob had been mulesed and an alternative method to mulesing had not been used.

The NM2 proposal would recognise that no sheep in the mob had been mulesed and an alternative method to mulesing had been used.

WoolProducers Australia has rejected the new mulesing status categories.

WPA chief executive Jo Hall said if another procedure did not meet the long-accepted definition of mulesing, then it should simply be defined as non-mulesed.

“We are concerned that the addition of these categories will cause immense confusion amongst not only growers, but also along the supply chain,” she said.

“We are asking that there is no change to the non-mulesing status on the NWD until at least the pain assessment trials on sheep freeze branding are completed.”

The emergence of sheep freeze branding is being touted as a potential alternative to mulesing.

However, it is currently going through independent pain assessment trials, which are yet to be finalised.

Ms Hall’s comments come after Australian Wool Exchange boss Mark Grave said the NWD proposals had sparked discussion about mulesing alternatives.

“The most interest in this review has been in relation to whether; and or how alternative methods to mulesing should be recognised in the NWD,” Mr Grave said.

“The AWEX board has given this matter significant consideration and felt it appropriate to consult further with industry for feedback and comment.”

Ms Hall said WoolProducers had concerns about adopting split definitions for non-mulesed. “The current mulesing definition refers to the breech and/or tail,” she said.

“If there is a concession on procedures that don’t use mulesing shears as having to be declared, there can be no guarantee that in the future that tail docking would not need to be declared.

“This is a path that WoolProducers do not want to go down.”

AWEX is calling on industry submissions for the consultation process.

The consultation ends on January 31.

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